The Europa League draw - an hour I'll never get back
By Charlie Stong
Watching a UEFA draw is quite possibly one of the most excruciating experiences known to man.
But despite knowing what was coming, I put myself through this annual torture once again today.
There was an hour of my life I idled away this lunchtime which I will never get back.
I found it on that bastion of frivolity which is the Uefa YouTube channel. Have a look if you need a good sleep.
We started with a video compilation of last year’s news – there’s been a pandemic on, you know, and apparently it halted last year’s Europa League for a while before it started again and someone beat someone else to win it.
After that we were treated to a suited European gentleman talking about something else.
This was Eurovision – without the glitz and glamour, but for some reason I couldn’t get Terry Wogan’s Irish patter out of my head.
As four other suits played with their balls in four separate pots, we eventually found out that Arsenal were in group B.
Watching the Europa draw is even better than the Champions League version – for every year more and more teams you’ve never heard of crop up in pot 16 or group J4.
It was another 10 minutes before we found out Arsenal’s first opponents – Rapid Wien. I think that’s Rapid Vienna to you and I. Did we create the empire for nothing?
Oriel Park, Dundalk, where Arsenal will play the Irish side in the Uefa Europa League group stages
Another few minutes ticked by, justifying the payments the four gentleman were receiving for their endeavours, before we discovered that the Gunners would also face Molde, those four-time Norwegian league champions.
Then, just as we thought we had almost been put out of our misery, we were given a recap of the teams which were drawn out third in the various groups. Why? I don’t think this happened for teams one or two.
Maybe three is the magic number.
Fourth to face the Gooners were Dundalk. Now, I’ve heard of that.
A quick Google and – of course, Ireland.
At last, a bit of excitement.
And as quick as a flash – “that concludes the draw”, and the YouTube channel was back to repeats of Santa Coloma against Ludogorets.
Anyway, here’s the draw for the Europa League for the British teams.
GROUP B: ARSENAL, Standard Liege, Molde, Dundalk.
GROUP D: Benfica, Standard Liege, RANGERS, Lech Poznan.
Group G: Braga, LEICESTER, AEK Athens, Zorya Luhansk.
GROUP H: CELTIC, Sparta Prague, AC Milan, LOSC Lille.
GROUP J: TOTTENHAM, Ludogorets, LASK, Royal Antwerp.